ANNAPOLIS —- Friday marked the 49th game in John Tillman‘s head coaching career.
It was probably far and away the most uneasy of them all for the Maryland coach.
Tillman insisted this week he hadn’t spent much time thinking about his return trip to Navy, where he was an assistant a dozen years. But there was time to ponder the looming matchup —- which the Terrapins won 10-4 —- on the way back from Virginia on Saturday.
“I wasn’t really looking forward to the game, which is kind of weird because I didn’t want to be on the other side,” Tillman said. “I care too much about this place and the kids here and I have so many great relationships, I would never want Navy to lose. When you’re here that long and you care so much about the school and what it means and you have so many great relationships, you don’t want to see them lose. You want to see them succeed.”
Before the game, Tillman was part of ceremony honoring the late Brendan Looney, a former Midshipmen defenseman who was killed in Afghanistan in September. Afterward, he spoke with Navy’s Marty Gallagher and RJ Wickham as they left a postgame press conference and chatted with Mids coach Richie Meade before he stepped to the podium.
It was a different night, one that capped a predictably different week.
“It just seemed awkward all week,” Tillman said. “I had to keep putting that out of my mind and focus on trying to put our kids in the best position to win because I couldn’t penalize them.”
—- Patrick Stevens